Liam Cooper has certainly endured a rollercoaster spell at Leeds United during his seven years at Elland Road.
The Whites skipper has been highly criticised by fans and outsiders from his time in the Championship, and even this season in the Premier League.
Cooper has certainly stepped up in the Premier League, and that is starting to make his critics look harsher as each week passes by.
The 29-year-old has recently passed 200 appearances for the club, and it is time that he is celebrated for what he has offered, rather than criticised.
Looking at his stats this season, the Scottish international has outperformed his two frequent partners in defence; Pascal Struijk and Robin Koch.
Well-known statistician LUFCDATA has created a graph on Twitter, comparing Cooper to the other defensive duo, and the gap is larger than expected in numerous categories.
— FocusOnLeeds (@FocusOnLeeds) February 21, 2021
Interestingly, Cooper easily outranks Koch and Struijk in numerous areas, including aerial duels, shots blocked and sliding tackles.
Leeds have struggled aerially this season, everyone knows this.
Struijk and Koch have both averaged under six battles won per game, with the skipper way above both – so maybe his partners have been the problem?
On top of this, Cooper is miles above the median average against other centre-backs in the Premier League that have played over 900 minutes this season – something not many will have expected to see.
Injuries certainly haven’t helped the Whites during this campaign, and Cooper will only get better with a consistent partner alongside him – something that Diego Llorente could offer him soon.
It is time we put more respect on Coopers’ name as the tweet from LUFCDATA suggests, with his performances starting to improve by the week.
We can forgive him for those missed chances against Wolves on Friday, as he isn’t there to score, but he must continue these impressive stats in defence, and maybe those around him need to start improving.
“League-One Liam” is no more.
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